The Squid's Ear Magazine


Alcorn, Susan Quintet: Pedernal (Relative Pitch)

An innovator in integrating pedal steel guitar into modern improvised music, Cleveland-born, Baltimore-based pedal steel guitar player Susan Alcorn's quintet enlists a superb set of New York players--Mark Feldman on violin, Michael Formanek on double bass, Mary Halvorson on guitar, and Ryan Sawyer on drums--taking on a diverse set of Alcorn compositions.
 

Price: $13.95



Quantity:

In Stock

Quantity in Basket: None

Log In to use our Wish List
Shipping Weight: 2.00 units

Sample The Album:





product information:

Personnel:



Susan Alcorn-pedal steel guitar

Mark Feldman-violin

Michael Formanek-double bass

Mary Halvorson-guitar

Ryan Sawyer-drums


Click an artist name above to see in-stock items for that artist.




UPC: 5902249002928

Label: Relative Pitch
Catalog ID: RPR1111
Squidco Product Code: 29810

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2020
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at The Bunker, in Brooklyn, New York, on November 12th, 2019, by John Davis.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

""Pedernal" opens with Alcorn's gracefully slithery pedal steel line suggesting a dark, minor blues that's joined in an undulating caress by Formanek's lithe bass. Descending chords introduce the second section as the band steps into the gathering maelstrom, eventually resolving into a beatifically lyrical theme that seems to summon the abiding power of the iconic vista."-Relative Pitch



"Pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn has achieved the enviable feat of commanding her own instrumental niche in the jazz world. Much like Toots Thielemans' harmonica, Gary Versace's accordion or Bela Fleck's banjo, she seems to have a unique role all to herself, at least until her substantial talents eventually spawn a host of imitators. From her beginnings playing traditional country and western in the 1980s, she has branched out considerably, in the last decade forging creative partnerships in the free improvisation and avant-jazz communities, working with a distinguished list of artists that includes Mary Halvorson, Ellery Eskelin, Michael Formanek, Nate Wooley, Joe McPhee and Ken Vandermark, among many others. Capable of crafting scintillating solo statements or generating richly nuanced atmosphere, her astonishing versatility has allowed her to contribute to a vast array of projects. But it is encouraging to see her getting some additional exposure as a leader in her own right, with the elliptical and entrancing Pedernal.

With five of her own compositions in tow, Alcorn is joined on the album by guitarist Halvorson, whose Away With You (Firehouse 12, 2016) was one of the notable releases that raised Alcorn's visibility significantly in the creative jazz world. Frequent collaborator bassist Formanek, drummer Ryan Sawyer and violinist Michael Feldman round out the quintet. The album's opener and title track, "Pedernal," is a gem, with a memorable folk-like melody and expert use of all five musicians, particularly the lyrical talents of Feldman and a charged dialogue between Halvorson and Alcorn, in evoking the wide-open landscape of northern New Mexico and the mesa for which the piece is named. The closer, "Northeast Rising Sun," is similarly engaging, with the band adding some joyful hand-claps to a piece that also seems inspired by Alcorn's folk/country roots, though the tune itself is derived from the Sufi devotional tradition. It also showcases Halvorson's most rangy solo on the record, a characteristically devilish tone-twisting wonder.

The middle three tracks reveal the more oblique side to Alcorn's muse, with more undetermined space and a more elusive feel. "Circular Ruins" paints a multihued sonic vista with impressionistic crests and valleys, and a series of unfolding ideas which offer ample surprises, not the least of which is a punchy collective improvisation with Sawyer's bold forays setting the pace. The jaunty "R.U.R." starts at a brisk clip, but it too opens unstructured possibilities in its second half which rely on the players' spontaneous gestures and subtle exchanges. The longest cut, "A Night in Gdansk," is a languid, expansive track which takes thirteen minutes to develop, with moments of quiet beauty interspersed with austere abstraction. It is the perfect vehicle for Alcorn's distinctive blend of the familiar and the uncanny, and a terrific encapsulation of this stage of her development as a composer."-Troy Dostert, All About Jazz

Also available on vinyl LP.

This album has been reviewed on our magazine:

The Squid
The Squid's Ear!

Get additional information at All About Jazz

Artist Biographies

"Susan Alcorn (born 1953) is an American composer, improvisor, and pedal steel guitarist. Having started out playing guitar at the age of twelve, she quickly immersed herself in folk music, blues, and the pop music of the 1960s. A chance encounter with blues musician Muddy Waters steered her towards playing slide guitar. By the time she was twenty-one, she had immersed herself in the pedal steel guitar, playing in country and western swing bands in Texas.

Soon, she began to combine the techniques of country-western pedal steel with her own extended techniques to form a personal style influenced by free jazz, avant-garde classical music, Indian ragas, Indigenous traditions, and various folk musics of the world. By the early 1990s her music began to show an influence of the holistic and feminist "deep listening" philosophies of Pauline Oliveros.

Though mostly a solo performer, Alcorn has collaborated with numerous artists including Pauline Oliveros, Eugene Chadbourne, Peter Kowald, Chris Cutler, Joe Giardullo, Caroline Kraabel, Earl Howard, Le Quan Ninh, Sean Meehan, Joe McPhee, LaDonna Smith, Mike Cooper, Walter Daniels, Ellen Fullman, Jandek, George Burt, Janel Leppin, Michael Formanek, Ellery Eskelin, Fred Frith, Maggie Nicols, Evan Parker, Johanna Varner, Zane Campbell and Mary Halvorson."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_Alcorn)
6/19/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Mark Feldman (born 1955 in Chicago) is an American jazz violinist. Feldman worked in Chicago from 1973-1980, in Nashville, Tennessee from 1980-1986, in New York City and Western Europe from 1986. He has performed with John Zorn, John Abercrombie, The Masada String Trio, Dave Douglas, Uri Caine, and Billy Hart.

He was a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and played in many bar bands in Chicago. He played on over 200 recordings in Nashville as a studio musician, was a member of the Nashville Symphony, and was a member of the touring groups of country western entertainers Loretta Lynn and Ray Price.

In 2003 he was soloist with Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra in Guus Janssen's Violin Concerto and with the WDR Jazz Orchestra in Concerto for Violin and Jazz Orchestra by Bill Dobbins. At Newf York's Lincoln Center he performed in duo with pianists Paul Bley and Muhal Richard Abrams.

He has recorded with Michael Brecker, Lee Konitz, Joe Lovano, and Chris Potter and has played on over 100 recordings in New York City as a soloist in contemporary music and modern jazz.

Feldman has released several albums, including Music for Violin Alone (Tzadik, 1995); Book of Tells (Enja, 2000); What Exit (ECM, 2006 with British pianist John Taylor; To Fly to Steal (Intakt, 2010) with bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Gerry Hemingway; and Oblivia (Tzadik, 2010) with his wife, Swiss pianist Sylvie Courvoisier. In September 2012, he and violinist Jean-Luc Ponty produced the debut album of Scott Tixier. Feldman wrote the liner notes."

-Mark Feldman Website (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Feldman)
6/19/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"One marker of bassist Michael Formanek's creativity and versatility is the range of distinguished musicians of several generations he's worked with. While still a teenager in the 1970s he toured with drummer Tony Williams and saxophonist Joe Henderson; starting in the '80s he played long stints with Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, Fred Hersch and Freddie Hubbard. (As a callback to those days, Formanek recorded with hardbop pianist Freddie Redd in 2013). The bassist has played a pivotal role on New York's creative jazz scene going back to the '90s when he notably led his own quintet and played in Tim Berne's barnstorming quartet Bloodcount. Nowadays Formanek's in the co-op Thumbscrew with Brooklyn guitarist Mary Halvorson and drummer Tomas Fujiwara.

Formanek is also a composer and leader of various bands. His principal recording and international touring vehicle is his acclaimed quartet with Tim Berne on alto saxophone, Craig Taborn on piano and Gerald Cleaver on drums, which records for ECM; 2010's The Rub and Spare Change and 2012's Small Places both earned coveted five-star raves in Down Beat. Formanek writes, and the quartet plays, compositions of great rhythmic sophistication that unfold in a natural sounding way - challenging music the players make sound like lyrical free expression. His occasional groups include the 18-piece all-star Ensemble Kolossus, roping in many New York improvisers he works with. Ensemble Kolossus recorded their first CD of all Formanek originals for the prestigious ECM label in December of 2014. The CD, The Distance was released in February 2016 and in addition to numerous other accolades also received a five-star review in Downbeat!

Formanek's other recordings as leader include Wide Open Spaces and Extended Animation for quintet and Low Profile and Nature of the Beast for seven players (all on Enja), and the solo album Am I Bothering You? (Screwgun). Mirage (Clean Feed) is by the occasional improvising trio of Formanek, tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin and pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn. Thumbscrew's 2014 debut is on Cuneiform Records. Michael Formanek has also made dozens of recordings as sideman, for among others Dave Ballou, Tim Berne, Jane Ira Bloom, Dave Burrell, Harold Danko, Marty Ehrlich, Tomas Fujiwara, Gary Thomas and Jack Walrath.

As composer of works for ensembles from duo to mixed jazz and classical orchestra, Michael Formanek has received institutional support from Chamber Music America, the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, the Peabody Conservatory, the Maryland State Arts Council and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. As an educator, Formanek teaches bass and other jazz courses, and leads the Jazz Ensemble at Baltimore's Peabody Conservatory."

-Michael Formanek Website (http://www.amibotheringyou.com/bio.html)
6/19/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"One of improvised music's most in-demand guitarists, Mary Halvorson has been active in New York since 2002, following jazz studies at Wesleyan University and the New School. Critics have called her "a singular talent" (Lloyd Sachs, JazzTimes), "NYC's least-predictable improviser" (Howard Mandel, City Arts), "one of the most exciting and original guitarists in jazz-or otherwise" (Steve Dollar, Wall Street Journal), and "one of today's most formidable bandleaders" (Francis Davis, Village Voice). The Philadelphia City Paper's Shaun Brady adds, "Halvorson has been steadily reshaping the sound of jazz guitar in recent years with her elastic, sometimes-fluid, sometimes-shredding, wholly unique style."

After three years of study with visionary composer and saxophonist Anthony Braxton, Ms. Halvorson became an active member of several of his bands, including his trio, septet and 12+1tet. To date, she appears on six of Mr. Braxton's recordings. Ms. Halvorson has also performed alongside iconic guitarist Marc Ribot, in his bands Sun Ship and The Young Philadelphians, and with the bassist Trevor Dunn in his Trio-Convulsant. Over the past decade she has worked with such diverse bandleaders as Tim Berne, Taylor Ho Bynum, Tomas Fujiwara, Ingrid Laubrock, Myra Melford, Jason Moran, Joe Morris, Tom Rainey and Mike Reed.

As a bandleader and composer, one of Ms. Halvorson's primary outlets is her longstanding trio, featuring bassist John Hébert and drummer Ches Smith. Since their 2008 debut album, Dragon's Head, the band has been recognized as a rising star jazz band by Downbeat Magazine for five consecutive years. Ms. Halvorson's quintet, which adds trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson and alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon to the trio, has released two critically acclaimed albums on the Firehouse 12 label: Saturn Sings and Bending Bridges. Most recently she has added two additional band members-tenor saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock and trombonist Jacob Garchik-to form a septet, featured on her 2013 release Illusionary Sea. Ms. Halvorson also co-leads a longstanding chamber-jazz duo with violist Jessica Pavone, the avant-rock band People and the collective ensembles Thumbscrew and Secret Keeper."

-Mary Halvorson Website (http://www.maryhalvorson.com/bio/)
6/19/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Ryan Sawyer is a drummer and percussionist from the USA. He has played with several artists and bands like, Tv On The Radio, At The Drive-In, Scarlet Johanson, Massive Attack, Boredoms (77 & 88 Boadrum), The Mekons, Thurston Moore, among others.He currently is playing with, Stars Like Fleas, Tall Firs, and Eye Contact."

-Discogs (https://www.discogs.com/artist/300910-Ryan-Sawyer)
6/19/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.


Track Listing:



1. Pedernal 05:44

2. Circular Ruins 09:48

3. R.U.R. 06:03

4. A Night in Gdansk 13:04

5. Northeast Rising Sun 07:14

Related Categories of Interest:


Improvised Music
Jazz
Free Improvisation
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Quintet Recordings
Guitarists, &c.
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
Top Sellers for 2021 by Customer Sales
Jazz & Improvisation Based on Compositions

Search for other titles on the label:
Relative Pitch.


Recommended & Related Releases:
Halvorson's, Mary Amaryllis
Cloudward
(Nonesuch)
Edelman, Nataniel Trio (feat. Michael Formanek / Michael Attias)
Un Ruido de Agua
(Clean Feed)
A piano sax and bass trio led by Argentinian pianist Nataniel Edelman with Michael Formanek on bass and Michael Attias on alto sax, recording in the studio in Berlin for a mix of five Edelman compositions, one by Attias, and four collective improvisations, recorded in a single day for a consistently lyrical, flowing set of elegantly informed, magnificent playing.
Rothenberg, Ned (w / Courvoisier / Halvorson / Fujiwara)
Crossings Four
(Clean Feed)
Crossing styles, generations and approaches to improvisations, multi-reedist and composer Ned Rothenberg's quartet of Rothenberg on clarinets & alto sax, Sylvie Courvoisier on piano, Mary Halvorson on guitar & effects and Tomas Fujiwara on drums perform five Rothenberg compositions and one by Rothenberg & Courvoisier, of spectacular timbral, rhythmic and melodic intersections.
Edelman, Nataniel Trio (feat. Michael Formanek / Michael Attias)
Un Ruido de Agua
(Clean Feed)
A piano sax and bass trio led by Argentinian pianist Nataniel Edelman with Michael Formanek on bass and Michael Attias on alto sax, recording in the studio in Berlin for a mix of five Edelman compositions, one by Attias, and four collective improvisations, recorded in a single day for a consistently lyrical, flowing set of elegantly informed, magnificent playing.
Melford's, Myra Fire And Water Quintet
Hear The Light Singing
(RogueArt)
Drawing inspiration from the same set of Cy Twombly drawings as her previous release, For The Love Of Fire And Water, and with nearly the same ensemble — Myra Melford on piano, Mary Halvorson on guitar, Ingrid Laubrock on tenor saxophones, Tomeka Reid on cello and here Lesley Mok on drums — Melford presents five brightly original and sophisticated compositions.
Formanek, Michael Quartet (Smith / Davis / Malaby)
As Things Do
(Intakt)
Michael Formanek's compositions run a wide range of styles and approaches to creative modern jazz, from flowing lyrical melodies to tense agitation in rapid runs, all anchored by Formanek's powerful bass and rendered with his Elusion Quartet of Tony Malaby on tenor & soprano sax, Kris Davis on piano and Ches Smith on drums & vibes; inventive jazz that continuously surprises.
Illegal Crowns
Unclosing
(Out Of Your Head Records)
The 3rd stellar album of modern jazz recorded in the studio after a five-city tour from the quartet of Tomas Fujiwara on drums, Taylor Ho Bynum on cornet & flugelhorn, Mary Halvorson on guitar and Benoit Delbecq on piano, performing three compositions each from Halvorson, Fujiwara and Delbeq, illustrating their distinctive approach to creative improvisation.
Glass Triangle (Zeena Parkins / Rasmussen / Sawyer)
Blue and Sun-lights
(Relative Pitch)
Recorded after a three-day series of concerts at New York City's venue The Stone, the trio of Zeena Parkins on electric harp & objects, Mette Rasmussen on saxophone, objects & voice and Ryan Sawyer on drums & objects brought their dynamic and far-ranging approach to collective free improv into Brooklyn's Figure 8 studio to capture these 10 extraordinary recordings.
Cordero, Brent / Peter Kerlin
A Sublime Madness [VINYL]
(Astral Spirits)
A new collaboration between keyboardist Brent Cordero and bassist Peter Kerlin, a gorgeous blurring of jazz, rock and Terry Riley-esque composition in a swirling collection of original work and a cover of Eddie Harris' "Freedom Jazz Dance", performed in a core trio with drummer Ryan Sawyer and prestigious guests including Daniel Carter, Jessica Pavone, James Brandon Lewis, &c.
Dunn's, Trevor Trio (w/ Halvorson / Smith) Convulsant avec Folie a Quatre
Seances
(Pyroclastic Records)
A series of powerful "séances" from the Trio-Convulsant of Trevor Dunn on bass, Mary Halvorson on guitar, and Ches Smith on drums & percussion, imagining through improv the 18th century French sect of Convulsionnaires of Saint-Médard, assisted by the Folie à Quatre of Carla Kihlstedt (volin), Oscar Noriega (clarinet), Mariel Roberts (cell) and Anna Webber (flute).
Columbia Icefield (Nate Wooley / Mary Halvorson / Ryan Sawyer)
Ancient Songs of Burlap Heroes
(Pyroclastic Records)
The second outing for trumpeter and composer Nate Wooley's Columbia Icefield band with Mary Halvorson on guitar, Susan Alcorn on pedal steel guitar, Ryan Sawyer on drums, plus violist Mat Maneri and bassist Trevor Dunn joining for one track; an album of sublime and subtly complex sondscapes in beautiful abstractions that evolve to exceptional group and solo interplay.
Akchote / Halvorson / Frisell
Loving Highsmith [2 CDs]
(Ayler Records)
The soundtrack to the documentary Loving Highsmith about thriller novelist Patricia Highsmith, with music composed by Belgium guitarist Noël Akchoté along with pieces by Cole Porter, Mancini, Johnny Mercer, Frank Sinatra, Hildegard von Bingen, Carl Fischer, &c, presented in two CDs, one each of duets between Akchoté and New York guitarists Mary Halvorson and Bill Frisell.
Fujiwara's, Tomas Triple Double
March
(Firehouse 12 Records)
"March" refers to the foundation of repurposed march rhythms NY drummer Tomas Fujiwara employs for the compositions in his second release with his Triple Double sextet, actually two trumpet-guitar-drum trios brilliantly interacting, with fellow drummer Gerald Cleaver, both Mary Halvorson & Brandon Seabrook on guitar and Taylor Ho Bynum on cornet & Ralph Alessi on trumpet.
Malaby's, Tony Sabino (w / Monder / Formanek / Rainey)
The Cave Of Winds
(Pyroclastic Records)
Updating his Sabino quartet of Michael Formanek on double bass and Tom Rainey on drums with guitarist Ben Monder taking Marc Ducret's role, saxophonist Tony Malaby, here on tenor & soprano, charges forward with both modern, angular NY jazz and with experimental free improv both light and dark, in this captivating studio album of six Malaby compositions and one collective improv.
Michael and Peter Formanek
Dyads
(Out Of Your Head Records)
Since 2017 the father/son duo of double bassist Michael Formanek and woodwind player Peter Formanek have performed, recorded and toured together, here recording in the studio in 2019 with the wind player on tenor saxophone and clarinet, the familial history and life of collaboration showing in the warmth and easy discourse between the two, heard in 13 succinct improvisations.
Thollem (w/ Alex Cline / Susan Alcorn)
Thollem's Astral Traveling Sessions
(Astral Spirits)
In 2019 pianist Thollem McDonas toured the US -- 12 months and 25 albums worth of recordings -- joining collaborators from a vast spectrum of improvisers and performers, this album presenting two such recordings: one a duo with drummer/percussionist Alex Cline from a live concert in Santa Monica; the other a duo with guitarist Susan Alcorn recorded in Baltimore.
Warriors of the Wonderful Sound Expanded Ensemble, The
Soundpath
(Clean Feed)
AACM legend Muhal Richard Abrams was commissioned by Philadelphia saxophonist Bobby Zankel to compose for Zankel's large ensemble Warriors of the Wonderful Sound, this monumental piece premiered in 2012, but only in 2018 was a 2nd performance possible, conducted by Marty Ehrlich and receiving 2 standing ovations, the band recording this studio version the next day at Drexel University.
Lafkas, Andrew
Two Paths with Active Shadows Under Three Moons and Surveillance
(Sacred Realism)
Composer Andrew Lafkas' large ensemble piece with performers including C. Spencer Yah, Ron Stabinsky, Barry Weisblat, Sean Meehan, Ben Owen, &c. is a meditative work intended for live performance, this album the 2nd of 3 performances, a brooding and resonant rendering of rich and subtle detail that evolves over 70 minutes, carrying its listeners in a profound revery.
Wooley, Nate
Seven Storey Mountain VI
(Pyroclastic Records)
Composer & trumpeter Nate Wooley presents the 6th composition of his SSM series exploring music's ability to bring catharsis and ecstatic release to the performers and listeners, in a large ensemble of 11 musicians and voice, in a stunningly sophisticated large work of modern orchestration through acoustic and electronic/amplified instruments; a masterwork.
Lopez, Ramon / Mark Feldman
Trappist-1
(Relative Pitch)
NY violinist Mark Feldman, an intensely active musician in improvisation and contemporary composition, and Spanish drummer Ramon Lopez, active with an impressive list of jazz masters including Barry Guy and The Turbine!, join together in the studio for the seven-part improvisation "Trappist-1", a virtuosic intertwining from introspective to exuberantly energetic.
Alcorn, Susan / Joe McPhee / Ken Vandermark
Invitation To A Dream
(Astral Spirits)
An excellent album of informed free improvisation in the debut of this masterful trio of legendary musicians spread across the US--Joe McPhee on soprano sax & pocket trumpet [NY], Ken Vandermark on tenor sax & clarinet [Chicago], and Susan Alcorn on pedal steel guitar [Texas], a profound album from assertive to introspective playing in seven captivating collective improvisations.
Nabatov, Simon Quintet (w/ Malaby / Seabrook / Formanek / Cleaver)
Last Minute Theory
(Clean Feed)
After pianist Simon Nabatov's return to NYC in 2018 he began assembling this quintet with the goal of pursuing a more traditional jazz setting, enlisting support from some of the city's finest and most versatile players--saxophonist Tony Malaby, drummer Gerald Cleaver, bassist Michael Formanek, and guitarist Brandon Seabrook--here in an exuberant set of Nabatov originals.
Douglas, Dave
Showing Up / The Power of the Vote [7" VINYL]
(Greenleaf Music)
2019 Record Store Day release, a 7" from trumpeter Dave Douglas in two different configurations: the lead track from his album "Engage" featuring guitarist Jeff Parker and cellist Tomeka Reid along with Anna Webber, Nick Dunston & Kate Gentile; and a B-Side from 2018's "Uplift" featuring Joe Lovano and Bill Laswell alongside Mary Halvorson, Julian Lage, and Ian Chang.
Eye Contact (Heyner / Sawyer / Lavelle)
War Rug
(KMB Jazz)
The New York free improvising trio of Matthew Heyner (Test, Malkuth) on bass, Matt Lavelle on trumpet and clarinet and Ryan Sawyer (Tall Firs, Stars Like Fleas) on drums in the follow-up to their 2005 Utech double CD "Embracing The Tide / Making Eye Contact With God", an impressive release of expressive technique and ritualistic drive.
Paul, Leah
We Will Do The Worrying
(Skirl)
LA flutist Leah Paul began these works as through-composed chamber pieces, with lyrical content evolving as each song took shape, performed in a hybrid band of improvisers and chamber players with Afton Hefley singing about meditation of dreams and childhood memories.
Wooley, Nate
Seven Storey Mountain V
(Pleasure of the Text Records)
The 5th of 7 large and inspiring works that began with a Festival of New Trumpet commission in 2007, here in an ensemble of 19 players including C. Spencer Yeh, Ben Vida, Ben Hall, Matt Moran, Chris Dingman, Dan Peck, Josh Sinton, Colin Stetson, the TILT brass octet, &c.



The Squid's Ear Magazine

The Squid's Ear Magazine

© 2002-, Squidco LLC